The consensus surrounding the Ryan Howard/Albert Pujols trade rumors is that it’s a non-issue. Teams talk like this all the time – and they should because attempting to wrangle in the best players in baseball is the focal point of any organization. The Phillies brass are merely looking at all possibilities regarding their payroll-inflated roster that is sure to keep rising if another move isn’t made. But this move reaches a different level. Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols may be a pipe dream – and it sure as hell is being beaten like a dead horse – but it’s still not something that is discussed everyday.
I don’t pretend to know everything about the inner-workings of a baseball club, but conversations like this one can’t take place as often as prevailing wisdom says. Are the Kansas City Royals huddled in Kauffman Stadium mapping out a way to steal Alex Rodriguez from the Yankees? Should the Pittsburgh Pirates be scouting David Wright because they can make a play for him? This type of thinking is reserved for only a handful of franchises. The Phillies happen to be one.
The thought process behind this deal is not as laughable as one would think. The non-issue is that there is a 99.8% chance it will not happen. St. Louis would burn to the ground if Pujols were to be traded well in advance of his contract ending. To slam the writer of this rumor, ESPN’s Buster Olney, is also a mistake. The guy is simply doing his job, and if that means wrestle up more hits by using two of the biggest names in sports, then so be it.
On the surface, this would seem like a ridiculous trade, however, the Phillies are attempting to find a soft spot in the Cardinals organization. It’s impossible to tell how deep the discussions became regarding such a blockbuster, but the fact is, the Cardinals are going to have a hard time affording the mammoth contract Pujols will likely garner in free-agency a few years down the road.
You can’t blame the Phillies for “talking” about this. Also remember that the Phillies are one of the few teams that could actually pull off this type of deal. Maybe not this exact trade, but they have the resources to make big moves, which not all teams do. That’s what sets this rumor apart from the rest.